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The Muslim Brotherhood’s Short History as an Officially Recognized Political Party Is Over

Amidst an ongoing military crackdown, Egypt bans the Muslim Brotherhood

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Supporters of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi celebrate his 2012 election. Photo: Jonathan Rashad

This morning a Cairo court officially banned the Muslim Brotherhood from operating in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood was, until recently, the political party in control of the country, as represented by the now-deposed President Mohamed Morsi. Now, a judge has ordered the group’s assets confiscated; banned the group’s official political organization; and banned any group that gets money or support from the Muslim Brotherhood.

But supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have already been the target of military attacks and other sanctions ever since the Egyptian military overthrew Mohamed Morsi in a coup back in July. So the extent to which this ban will actually affect the Brotherhood’s activities, and how much it is a political allowance for the military to embolden their crackdown, is up in the air.

And the ban on the Brotherhood is, in the 85-year long history of the group, not unusual. For most of its existence the Muslim Brotherhood was banned in Egypt, though it “flourished as a major provider of social services to the country’s poor and eventually won seats in parliament and union leadership.” In the wake of the 2011 revolution against longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood gained power and legitimacy. The AP: “After the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, it was allowed to work openly, formed a political party and rose to power in a string of post-Mubarak elections. In March, it registered as a recognized non-governmental organization.”

The court’s decision comes, as Egypt, in the hands of the military, tries to develop a new constitution. One of the floated tenets of that proposed constitution is a ban on religiously-affiliated political parties, including the Islamic-based Muslim Brotherhood.

More from Smithsonian.com:

In Case You Forgot, Egypt Is Still in the Midst of a Major Conflict
Three Things to Know About the Bloodshed in Egypt

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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